How to stay motivated to exercise during the holidays

Beat the stress of the busy season by setting aside time for your own needs and pamper yourself with a workout.
How to stay motivated to exercise during the holidays Masterfile

We're full-on into the holiday season right now, a time of year when people often find it difficult to stick to their fitness goals and find the time to exercise. I don't think of struggles with sticking to a fitness regimen as a problem to be solved — I think of it as a solution to your problems.

Why do we struggle to keep up our routines?

When we struggle with the daily routine of simply being human, it’s often about a feeling of being out of control.

Your boss is channeling Linda Blair to the point where you’re waiting for the green vomit to fly, your kids are whining they have so much homework it qualifies as a hate crime, the dog won’t stop peeing on the rug, your mother-in-law is on the phone and she wants to talk to you, and the toilet seat got left up and you fell in.

I get it. There is stuff in life that just plain sucks, but you have to just take a breath, and soldier on. Because it’s expected of you. Because you have no choice. It makes you feel a lack of control over the situation that is called being alive.

But you do have control. Some, at least.


Also keep in mind that you don’t have to be the world’s saviour either. Sure, there are people whom you love that you must make sacrifices for in order to make their lives better, but the problem comes when you are sacrificing too much.

It’s okay to put yourself first and take some me-time to exercise. You need to love yourself enough to put yourself first. Even during the busy holiday season, it's important to set aside some space for your own needs. When you take the time to focus on exercising you’re actually pampering yourself. You’re lowering stress, making your brain function better and improving your mood — all this makes it easier to do what you need for other people too.

How to fall in love with exercise

That’s why you shouldn’t worry about what is the best calorie-burner or the greatest muscle builder, but instead find something that you actually like doing. Find what you love — failing that, find what you don’t hate and work on getting as good at it as you can. With competence and confidence comes love for the activity.

And when you’re exercising, and loving it, you’ll realize this is where you’re meant to be. Beyond just making you feel better, it’s going to toughen you up. It’s going to give you experience as a problem solver and the energy to deal with all the other stuff you have face on a daily basis. It can make all those big problems seem more manageable.


All you need to do is take that first step. You can learn how to be you in time.

James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, AB. He writes the column “In-Your-Face Fitness” for The Los Angeles Times and consults with clients on strategic planning for fitness and health. Get a free metabolism report at Body For Wife. Email James at


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